Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Highway widening improvement - what you need to know

If you want a Highway fix so you don't have to sit in traffic, you're going to have to work for it:  1) write a letter and 2) show-up.  Will you do that?  

City council majority probably won't help, but may also be a drag on the process as usual.  And if you're successful in your letter writing and showing-up, the project will be done in stages over a period of about 3+ years. What will traffic congestion look like in 3 years going forward?  Remember 2005-2008?  Better start now to do something.  First get that letter written and include your name, address, phone number. By email, fax or US mail send your text to the address at the bottom of this article.  

Pacifica Tribune,/Jane Northrop, Staff Writer, 8/11/11. "A plan to widen Highway 1 from south of Fassler to north of Reina del Mar, also known as the Calera Creek Parkway project, is under environmental review. A draft environmental impact report with three project options -- a no build option, a narrow median option and a wider landscaped median option -- are all under consideration. The environmental review process has identified wetlands and endangered species habitat as main environmental issues that have been discovered, but which are expected to be mitigated during the course of construction.

Caltrans is the lead agency on the project with the city of Pacifica and the Transportation Authority as partners. Joseph Hurley, director of the transportation authority program, said the community needs to decide if this is something that should be built. "At the end of the environmental process, either it will be given environmental approval, undergo further study or abandoned altogether," he said. "This public review period is almost twice as long as normal for public comment. We want the public to have as much time as necessary to submit any comments. We want to allow the environmental process to play out. Let's do all the technical studies that are necessary."

Members of the public may comment on the draft EIR until Oct. 7. The address appears at the end of this article. At the last public meeting about the highway widening in Pacifica, the agencies presented every alternative that had been conceived and abandoned along the way to show the public why this widening design was the one on which they settled.

The next public meeting will focus on the current options. It is set for Sept. 22 at the Community Center. The program will begin with an open house at 6:30 p.m., followed by a meeting at 7 p.m. with a presentation followed by a question and answer session.

The current build options widen Highway 1 from south of Fassler Avenue to north of Reina del Mar from four to six lanes with shoulders. It would be widened primarily on the west side of the existing roadway. New pavement would be put in and the sidewalk will be improved. A bike path would be built.  There are various improvements proposed for the two intersections. As noted in the draft EIR, by the year 2035, the widening is expected to increase capacity through those two intersections and reduce congestion. Travel time would improve between eight and 11 minutes. The two alternatives vary in the way the median is designed. In the narrow alternative, the median would be increased to 22 feet. It's at six feet now. Under the landscaped median alternative, it will be widened to 30 feet. The residents of a single family home at 425 Old County Road would be displaced under both scenarios.

The project will require extensive mitigation measures to protect the endangered California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake. The National Park Service will have to sign off on those mitigation measures for the land that is owned by the GGNRA. In addition, a qualified archaeological monitor and a Native American consultant will assist if necessary. To guard the habitats, all construction staging activities will be located out of the wetland, aquatic and riparian habitats. Fencing will guide workers away from inadvertently straying. Mitigations to treat storm water runoff and control of pollutants in runoff during construction is expected to avoid indirect impacts to wetlands. Soil stabilization measures will be included. Slope protection will help control erosion.The environmental process is expected to be completed by next spring if everything falls into place, Hurley said. After that, the design process would take about a year and a half. Construction would begin about a year after that. The narrower media option would cost about $30 million and the median with landscaping, $35 million. 

Copies of the draft EIR are available at Caltrans, 111 Grand Ave., Oakland, San Mateo County Transportation Authority, 1250 San Carlos Ave.,. San Carlos, and in Pacifica at the Sanchez Library, 1111 Terra Nova Blvd., Sharp Park library, 104 Hilton Way, City Hall, 170 Santa Maria Ave., Community Center, 540 Crespi Drive, Planning Dept., 1800 Francisco Blvd. and Public Works -- Engineering Division, 151 Milagra Drive, or online at the websites for Caltrans (, Transportation Authority ( and city of Pacifica (

Public comments must be received by 5 p.m. Oct. 7 and can be submitted by U.S. mail, fax or email to Yolanda Rivas, Branch Chief, Division of Environmental Planning & Engineering, California Department of Transportation, District 4, Attn: Thomas Rosevear, 111 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94623, fax no. 510-286-5600, email"

Posted by Kathy Meeh


todd bray said...

You need to know construction is planned to be done at night. The summery calls for work lights to be pointed away from residences. No mention of noise mitigation. Boy, now I'm taking notice.

Jim Alex said...

It looks like Caltrans is going to take your house for this. Fassler is going to be realigned

Anonymous said...

The NIMBY/Sue Digre/Chris Fogel argument that we need to create traffic jams and roadblocks to get visitors to participate in our local economy is possibly the silliest strategy for economic growth ever proposed in Pacifica. And that's saying a lot.

todd bray said...

Jim, my house is safe. Thankfully you don't seem to know where I live.

Anonymous said...

I don't get why the greenies don't love the idea. This will cut way down on the number of dopes who actually stop in pacifica. And the rest of us can get over the hill faster to shop!
Another Caltrans town killer.

Chris Fogel said...

Nice strawman and not my position, oh brave Anonymous one.

So now here's one for you: Please clarify how economic growth is currently being stifled in Pacifica due to Highway 1 as it exists today.

I mean, I've never seen traffic conditions on Highway 1 cited anywhere as a reason a business has left (or not started in) Pacifica. Any specifics would be nice. The ball's in your court; we'll wait.

While you ponder your response, keep in mind that both highway expansion proposals require the destruction of two Pacifica businesses (as well as one private residence) to the west. On the east side, the highway will extend to just outside the doorsteps of the residences off of Harvey Way.

"We had to destroy the businesses to save the businesses," right Anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Give up Fogel. None are so blind as those that will not see. Bottom line is that Caltrans doesn't care about Pacifica and they are going to build this sucker if they choose to because it fits into their regional highway planning. That's how they roll...this time right over Pacifica. God, I hope we still have Vreeland to blame.

William Leo Leon said...

Date: 9/1/2011

PublicHearing Calera Creek Parkway DEIR -Item 11

Members of the SMCTA Board:

I am submitting the following comments for the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed widening of Highway 1 in Pacifica.

I would like to start by saying that I am in favor of finding solutions to improve traffic operations by decreasing traffic congestion and improving peak-period travel times along the congested segment of SR 1 within the city of Pacifica and along the entire San Mateo coast.

Where I start to see problems with the DEIR starts with the Proposed Action. Because in my opinion it is not consistent and in conflict with its stated goal which says in part (see section S-3): ... improve peak-period travel times along this segment of SR 1, at a reasonable cost, while avoiding or minimizing impacts to the adjacent land uses and coastal zone resources.

After careful review of the DEIR I have serious concerns that the two build options proposed in the DEIR, basically they do not accomplish the stated goal. The reasons for this are many.

I would like you to know that people living in Pacifica know two things about their traffic problems. Number one is that whenever the Devils Slide section of HWY 1 closes we have no traffic problem on HWY1 in Pacifica. And Two is that when our schools are not in session traffic conditions greatly improve.

The key Point of those two facts is that it is the traffic from the Coastal region south of Pacifica, traveling north in the AM and South in the PM, impacts our traffic local conditions greatly. Recent Peer Reviewed Traffic studies in Pacifica, taken during periods when school was not is in session, show improved LOS – Level Of Service over traffic conditions in the DEIR taken when school was in session.

It is obvious that in the absence of any Regional traffic study data, and discussion or inclusion of the Coastal region south of Pacifica, as part being part of the traffic solution there is potential for a major oversight in the DEIR study. Moreover, that absence creates a huge gap in the justification for the traffic build solutions proposed and the all associated costs which run in the tens of millions of tax dollars.

The potential and real impacts to private property, business, endangered species and habitat and the expense of some 50 million dollars, are too substantial to ignore. The DEIR must include the Coastal regional from Pacifica south all the way to Half Moon Bay. In my opinion, to ignore the regional coastal impacts on Pacifica is not good planning or management of public funds and resources. The Study Area must be expanded to include regional contribution to traffic before arriving at solutions or alternatives. How else do we see and understand the big picture?

According to the DEIR, the existing transit and bus service through the area currently run well below capacity, with an average ridership of 50 percent of available capacity in the morning peak period and 40 percent in the evening peak period. If the SMCTA and lead agencies are serious about reducing congestion and traffic, regional and local initiatives must be identified and implemented. Otherwise we will continue to passively promote one person per vehicle traffic congestion. And to perpetuate the need for more and bigger roadways.

I have many other concerns with the DEIR that I am not presenting here. I will submit written comments with those concerns on or before the October 7, 2011 deadline.

Thank you for this opportunity to bring these concerns to the attention of SMCTA.


William “Leo” Leon
Pacifica, CA 94044